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Food Network Host Ellie Krieger Talks Upper West Side Food Scene

By Serena Solomon | October 21, 2014 7:29pm
 Ellie Krieger is a native New Yorker who is a cookbook author and nutritionist.
Famous Neighbors: Ellie Krieger
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UPPER WEST SIDE — It's no surprise that Ellie Krieger, host of the Food Network's Healthy Appetite and cookbook author, became a nutritionist with a taste for good food.

Her father took her to gourmet grocery store Zabar's often when she was growing up and Krieger now takes her 12-year-old daughter there. The staff behind the fish counter know three generations of the family.

"I grew up in a family of foodie New Yorkers," said the Upper West Side resident, who was also inspired by the multicultural food in her childhood borough of Queens. 

Krieger has not only made her mark through her TV show and cookbooks. She is also involved in advocating for healthy lunches for New York City's school children. She also supports the Bowery Mission, a men and women's shelter organization with a focus on nutritious and tasty food for the homeless. 

Where do you find the healthiest eating on the Upper West Side?

I'm a qualitiatian. I really seek quality food even if it's not a whole food kind of place. One place, Gennaro, [an Italian Restaurant at 665 Amsterdam Ave.], you can go there and order less than healthy, but there are also some amazing creative yet classic salads and fish dishes. They have incredible antipasto platters.      

How has the New York City food scene changed since you were a child?

Exciting things are happening in the restaurant scene. There is a focus more then ever before on plant food. Chefs never had vegetables at the center of a dish. It was always protein. Vegetables were always an afterthought. John Fraser with Narcissa [a restaurant located in the Standard East Village Hotel] is doing this well. He also has Dovetail on the Upper West Side [located at 103 W. 77th St.]. Every Monday night there is a vegetable tasting menu.

Where do you go in the city for your absolute indulgence?

The one thing I can't stop eating is really good french fries. Absolute Bagels [2788 Broadway] is another thing. I try not to eat too many bagels. I budget it. I budget my carb intake so I can have some Absolute Bagels a couple of times a week. And a gigantic cookie from Levain Bakery [located at 167 W. 74th Street]. I have one a couple of times a year.

Where do you do your grocery shopping besides at Zabar's?

I'm all over the map. I go to my local Westside Market, which is handy. I do Whole Food at Columbus Circle and I do Fresh Direct. I try and get to the local farmer's market on 97th Street, but it's only on a Friday. It is essentially why I wrote my new book [Weeknight Wonders]. It is about having that arsenal of recipes that you can make in 30 minutes. You will have a lot of the ingredients already at home. It's also about taking advantage of your freezer; making sure you have things like frozen shrimp, frozen spinach and taking advantage of your cupboard and having staples like quinoa, rice, diced tomatoes.

How does nutrition tie into your work with the Bowery Mission?

It is more than just food. They are really helping transform people's lives. Recently I did a cooking class with the women's center on the Upper East Side. It was great just to all cook together and helping them learn healthy cooking techniques. Everyone is busy and working, but you want to have a wholesome affordable meal. I just loved being in the kitchen with the women and just talking together.